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4.5 out of 5 stars
Innocent Graves (The Inspector Banks Series)
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2008
Since I gave a favourable review to the first of the Banks series, Gallows View, I have read nearly all of the rest of the books in the series. I have enjoyed them all, but this one is by far the best yet.

It marks a new departure in Robinson's style. The preceding novels tend to focus on Banks himself, whereas his viewpoint is one of many in this novel. For the first time, we see a significant part of the action through the eyes of a suspect - Owen Pierce, who is suspected of the murder of a teenage girl. This means we get very little of Banks's family life, and I for one consider this a bonus. When reading a detective novel, I can't muster up much interest in the detectives' relationships, marital problems etc. Not that Robinson overdoes it in his other books, but the passages involving Banks's wife and kids are the ones that I have found least gripping, as a rule.

The other significant departure is that we see Banks and some of his team as rather more brutal than before. They are convinced that they have the right man for the murder, and go well beyond what should be acceptable police procedure to prove it. When they find that Pierce has an edition of Playboy, a dirty video and a copy of Lady Chatterley (!), they treat him as a pervert. In interview they bully him and twist his words until he becomes so confused he starts to contradict himself, to their great delight. This part made for uncomfortable reading, as did Pierce's treatment at the hands of the police while in custody. What Robinson does here is move his police characters away from likeable, dependable, upright types with civilised tastes towards single-minded, inflexible people who don't mind making the evidence fit the suspect rather than, as it should be, the reverse. I lost some respect for the characters due to this but this was clearly intentional - it is an honest portrayal of how many police officers actually behave. Not surprisingly, I was rooting for Owen at the trial - how that turns out is, of couse, for you to read for yourselves.

With Innocent Graves, Robinson has moved ever closer towards realism which is what makes the book so gripping. Better still, he succeeds at this without resorting to the sort of macho posturing so prevalent in many detective novels and cop shows.

I strongly recommend this and find it sad that to date it has so few Amazon reviews in comparison to some of the garbage that clogs up the bestseller lists. Enjoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A teenage girl is found strangled and half dressed in a graveyard on a foggy evening. There are few suspects apart from her parents and DCI Alan Banks has been warned not to put pressure on them by the chief constable. When loner Owen Pierce, is identified as having been in the area and there is forensic evidence to link him to the girl and the girl to him it seems like an open and shut case. This book is a bit different from previous books in the series as some of the action is shown from Owen's perspective - not just from the point of view of the police characters involved.

I found this absorbing reading and it was far from clear how things were going to work out in the end. Some of the book does show human nature at its worst with a mob threatening to attack the suspect. The book is well written and I thought the trial scenes were excellent. The insights into the mind of the suspect were very well done too and I had huge sympathy for him.

This series can be read in any order, though I am reading them in the order in which they were published. If you like crime novels with an atmospheric background - in this case the Yorkshire Dales - then try the DCI Banks series. There is some violence but it isn't graphically described and there is some swearing but both the violence and the language are an integral part of the story.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2008
If you are familiar with the Inspector Banks novels, get ready for a noticeable change in the usual flow of the story. There are several things that are different in "Innocent Graves", but the first one that comes to mind is that Inspector Banks has a less prominent role in the story. Or maybe I should refer to is as less "screen time". This happens because there is a significant portion of the story that covers the trial of the accused in the murder of a sixteen-year-old girl. Here Robinson shows once again that he is willing to take risks, and even though he did not write a legal thriller per se, he did take a step in that direction, with a result that was more than adequate.

There are a couple of new characters in Bank's team, and since one of them presents a striking contrast with the boisterous Hatchley, I liked the result of this experiment. Also, the usual elements that make Robinson's writing special are present, especially the conversation fragments that give us great insight into the minds of the characters. I felt that he was successful with the construction of the mystery too, even though he could have crafted the ending a little better, instead of just letting it resolve by itself and fall on the lap of the police.

My main gripe with this installment has to do with the little development we see in the sub-plot having to do with Banks and his family. In previous novels we witnessed how the inspector and his wife started having issues after their kids left the nest, and it would have been interesting to find out how this progressed. After all, one of the main reasons why I read series is because I like the character development from book to book and the elements outside the main plot. I hope that in the next novel Robinson rectifies this and delivers another outstanding work!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2014
Innocent Graves the eighth book in the excellent Alan Banks series is not just the best Alan Banks so far but one of the best crime novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

Starting in the gloomy setting of a church graveyard at night the Vicars wife who is drunk stumbles upon a shocking discovery. Hidden behind one of the graves is the body of young Deborah Harrison. All the classic signs of a sex crime are present, the cloths have been interfered with and young Deborah has been left in a way that does nothing to protect her dignity.

After a little digging Deborah is discovered to be the daughter of a rich industrialist and the new Chief Inspector Jimmy Riddle is demanding that the team find the killer and find him quickly.

Soon Alan has to put all worries about his failing marriage behind him and do whatever he can to find out who killed the young girl. An early break in the case leads to the questioning of a local teacher.

Owen Pierce was seen alone on a bridge overlooking the church yard just before the killings, he also was in the area drinking before the attack. And Owen is also hiding things from the police. Soon with the lies adding up and DNA evidence adding up Owen is charged with the murder of the girl and the case would appear to be solved.

However despite the backslapping going on Banks can't shake a feeling that something is not right. With so many suspects and questions unanswered have they got the right man?

This is where the book in my opinion shows its true genius. In another departure from the normal Robinson begins to split the chapters between both the police and their investigation and Owen and his side of the story. It is truly wonderful the way Robinson takes the most basic evidence and shows that it can be twisted to make a monster appear innocent or the innocent a monster. The decision and delivery of the splitting the chapters sets this book apart from most truly in my eyes it lifts this book into the category of special one off novel.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you are a fan of the crime genre and Peter Robinson and you have not yet read it do yourself a favour and buy this wonderful book.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
I have never read anything from Peter Robinson before and was looking for a book to read on the beach. I have already exhausted what Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallender has to offer so I thought I would try another detective in Peter Robinsons Ian Banks. I was not dissapointed! The book grips you and keeps you interested. Like Mankell it has no big city glamour or a dashing hero so it has a more believable feel to it. And like all good detective mysteries it keeps you guessing. I still prefer Henning Mankell's writing but whilst I am waiting for his next one I have a more than worthy substitute to be getting on with.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2014
This is probably the most disappointing Banks book I have read and I have read most of them).

A teenage girl is strangled in a churchyard. She is the daughter of influential people and there is no apparent motive.

Suspects include the vicar and his wife, the vicar's wife's boyfriend, the recently sacked odd job man at the church, the victim's former boyfriend, her parents and godfather and a teacher at the local college.

An arrest is made (based on circumstantial evidence and some forensics). But this is less than half way through the book, so the second half deals with the accused incarceration and court experiences, So this is an unusual format, and one that I wasn't too keen on.

There are few sub-plots or red herrings although the denouement was (to me) a bit surprising.

Still a good read but a bit disappointing in many ways.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2007
I love Peter Robinson's Banks stories and going back to read them again one after the other really lets you see the development. For me this is the book where the series goes from quite polite thrillers to big meaty thrillers. This is acheived by having two stories running together - the Alan Banks story line, where he's investigating the murder, and the story through the eyes of the man accused with the crime. Excellent stuff!!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2007
To me this is how a good crime story should be done, its not trying to be pretentious, it doesn't lose itself up its own bottom, its main character is believable, likeable and has flaws. Its not written to heavily you become so bogged down in description you lose the plot, it keeps you guessing the characters are well written and rounded.
My first Peter Robinson but def not my last
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2013
Peter Robinson's novels are very popular with a large number of readers so I can only presume that it is his style of writing that I have difficulty with. Whilst the characters and the story line are believable, the pace is quite tedious and, at times.I found myself skimming over many pages in order to move the story along. This is the second of his books that I have read and it will now be the last. I really enjoyed the TV portrayal of DC Banks and I only wish he had come across as well in the novels. I had guessed who the killer was very early in "Innocent Graves" on the grounds that the character was surplus to requirements
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2014
I've been reading through Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks series from the beginning - none have disappointed, it's a very good series and well written. Unfortunately I read fairly quickly, and the prompts for reviews come a bit late for me. I can't actually remember the detail of the book by the time of writing this! Be re-assured, review reader, that if I did not like the product, I would definitely say so! Sadly, the next book for me to read in the series "Piece of my Heart", is priced beyond the budget I set myself for buying books for my KIndle, so I'll have to wait until the price goes down before I buy it.
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